The major difference between Apple and other technology companies like Google or Microsoft is that Apple provides both content and the platform to run it on—just think iTunes and how seamlessly it works with the iPod, iPad, and iPhone. In contrast, Google sells advertising and considers that to be content.
One area that Steve could applaud Bill Gates for was Bill’s early vision on the crucial value of content. As long ago as early 1996, Bill wrote a perceptive article with a title that has just about become part of the language: “Content is King.” The article begins with a prediction that could not have been more accurate: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”2
For once I can say hurray for Bill Gates!
The essay went on to point out that the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier, allowing material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience. It also allows information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher.
As accurate as his crystal ball was all those years ago, Bill included a statement that could only be called laughable from Steve’s perspective. “At Microsoft,” Gates wrote, “we consider our software to be the content.”